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After ‘disastrous’ winter, Sault tourism officials hope for strong summer


As we near summer, northern tourism officials are taking stock of the winter that was (or wasn’t) and looking to the next busy season for the industry.

“Disastrous,” said David MacLachlan, executive director of Destination Northern Ontario, when describing Mother Nature’s impact on winter tourism.

“A lot of the ice fishing tournaments had to be cancelled this winter. I know that one in Wawa went ahead. But, you know, the ones further south, they were, you know, for the most part, they were all cancelled.”

Even in summer, MacLachlan said the north still relies on seasonal weather to attract tourists.

Travis Anderson with Tourism Sault Ste. Marie expects summer to be busy this year, should the warm weather come as advertised.

“We've got community strong race weekend and Queen Street crews kicking things off in June,” Anderson said.

“Before that, we've got a festival of beers and then we've got, you know, a great soccer tournament coming back this year and a number of other events on the trails, including Crank the Shields and Salty Marie.”

Destination Northern Ontario has been surveying operators and residents in the north to see where the area stacks up compared with other Canadian destinations.

“(It will) help us plan for the future,” MacLachlan said.

“Now that we're coming past COVID, we're really looking at how can we grow the sector and where are those growth opportunities.”

A large growth opportunity, he said, is transportation to the North.

MacLachlan said pre-pandemic, the Sault had triple the number of daily flights, making it easier for business or leisure travellers to schedule visits in or out of the city.

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He said transportation as a whole -- whether it’s air travel or a scarcity of buses and rail travel -- as a “crisis for the region’s tourism.

It’s something he and other tourism officials are lobbying to improve. Top Stories

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